Forza Horizon 4 is entering the last leg before its release and is arguably the most anticipated racing title of the year. The Sixth Axis has sat down with Art Director Benjamin Penrose to discuss the upcoming racer.
Forza Horizon 4 is set in the north of the UK and completely avoids London. This created a bit of uproar from some people who were looking forward to seeing what Playground Games would be able to muster with the city. Talking with The Sixth Axis, Penrose admitted that “It’s not the best place to go driving, certainly!” before going on to discuss the process of choosing locations:
“It’s actually a fairly lengthy process that we go through to choose a location, so we look at lots of different places and we consider what each of those locations is going to bring to the game. It’s actually more than just the north and we’ve got some parts of the Devonshire coast and the Cotswolds, so we do go quite south. It’s really like a ‘best of’ in terms of bits of Britain.”
So players can expect to drive in a world that really takes the best of what Britain has to offer, kicking the run-down cities to the curb, and showcasing the beauty that is tucked away. A feature that has been at the forefront of the title’s marketing is the 4 seasons on offer. Many people have made that joke that the game ‘isn’t murky enough’ ‘England isn’t that sunny, it’s always dark in Scotland’ when in reality, the lighting has all been captured in the real world, to guide the creation of Forza Horizon 4’s skyboxes:
“All the lighting in the game, which I would argue is what gives the mood, that is all taken from our real-world data capture. It’s sky capture which we did on location in Britain, and we had a guy capturing for every single season; he’s a very dedicated guy who was there for the entire year, in all conditions.
“The thing with that was we got the real deal. We got the skies which were actually there in real life for each of those seasons and we brought them into the game. Sure, we curated them slightly and we picked the stuff that we thought was going to look the most dramatic and give us the best visuals in game, but there’s a decent representation of all the different weather types that you’d expect to have.”
I pity the poor soul who had to spend a year looking at the British weather, but the attention to detail is frankly astonishing. With the addition of such detailed skyboxes, it’s no wonder that what we’ve seen so far looks so damn good. Forza 7 stepped up the graphical benchmark for racing titles, and it seems that Forza Horizon 4 is set to raise the bar even higher.
Another of the more polarising features showcased at E3 this year was the inclusion of real drivers, to replace the utilization of Drivertars. This caused concern and multiple flashbacks to turn 1 in public lobbies, but thankfully playground game’s has thought ahead:
“I think we all recognize those complaints and those issues that you associate with an online game, and that’s why, first of all, we’ve made sure that this isn’t an online only game… It’s a button press in a menu to switch to solo, and if you do that all of the real world drivers will be replaced with drivatars. Obviously, that’s going to make the experience pretty comparable to what you had in Forza Horizon 3 where you were in a world populated with Drivatar AI.
“We felt was that playing in the open world with real people added this whole extra layer of fun and spontaneity that you can’t really programme into an AI. That’s something that needs to come from genuine human behavior.”
Considering the state of some people’s drivatars in Forza titles, I’d argue spontaneity isn’t the biggest of issues, but it’s nice to know that Playground Games have catered for those who want to experience the title in a more regimented setting. Players will also be able to rejoice in the fact that Playground Games has taken additional measures to ensure that our races don’t get ruined by someone drifting down the road:
“We’ve been talking about something we’ve introduced called auto-ghost, which means that anybody in the open world that you encounter won’t have any collisions with you unless you decide to join them in a convoy.”
Thank god. My biggest fear was that lobbies would turn into a cluster of randomly smashing into people you don’t know. What does intrigue me is the ability to convoy up with others, and I can see this becoming a heavily utilized feature for those who love drifting, forming long, winding drift trains. You can read the full interview by The Sixth Axis here.
Forza Horizon 4 is set to release on Xbox One and PC October 2.